Free Speech Zones

Or Counter-Terrorism At It's Best (she said snickeringly)

by Lura Langenback

© 03/26/04

When I was not-quite-a-teen, my parents and I went to see a motorcade for then Vice President Nixon. It was the first time I had seen anyone "famous" up close and personal, so to speak. It was 1960. Nixon was running for President. He lost, of course. That was the first and last time I had ever been to an event of that type. There were people who were not as enthusiastic with him as most of the crowd and voiced this in full view of the Presidential hopeful. They had placards and signs that were against his being voted in as President. The folks who had them were few but definitely vocal. They simply did not want him in office and said so. It apparently worked. Apparently that is the problem. It worked.

I have come to the conclusion, based on that one experience, that Presidential hopefuls and current Presidents (in many countries) do not want to see anything that resembles disagreement with their policies or actions. Maybe that was a stretch or so I thought until I started reading several articles that my husband searched out on Free Speech Zones, a term that I had never heard before. We live in an area that is far removed from the big cities and political arena so we both were shocked to find out about such things. Yes, yes, back woods folks we are.

One thing we do have in our favor is that we are not conditioned to this sort of thing so it still does shock us. Because we live in a rural area, we aren't quite as subject to the political trash that others may be dealing with. A couple of years ago, I wrote an article on the Frog In The Pot theory of living. You know the story, don't you? The smart frog that is put into a boiling pot leaps out quickly and saves himself from being parboiled. The poor sap frog gets put into a pot of cool or cold water where he chooses to lounge, basking in the swimming pool until it begins to get warmer. Ah, but the water is so nice. By the time the pot is boiling, the poor fool is already a crispy critter, dead as a doornail.

This country is living the life of the poor sap frog and the water is getting pretty hot. This is probably nowhere near the latest thing in a very long line of right-stripping ideas. However, it is new to me so I am going to talk about it. What is a Free Speech Zone, for those of you who are just as in the dark as I was? A Free Speech Zone happens whenever a political figure shows up and "walks among the people". Yeah right. The police and federal officials map out a place far from the main drag and designates that as a Free Speech Zone. Those who disagree with whomever has shown up and has a sign to prove it are herded into that small area, usually only large enough for up to about 40 people. It is unlikely in the extreme that the political figure will ever see the protest.

The theory here is that protesters can contain terrorists so, for the sake of safety or so they say, the protesters are not allowed to protest in mass or in view of the person who so desparately needs to see the views of ALL the people. Perhaps the biggest problem with this idea is that our country has a heritage of free speech. Sometimes that speech is not what we want to hear but the indivduals always had the right to assemble and voice their opinions. That right and freedom have been stripped from us. Remember the parades in Russia, China, Cuba and any other country that has no freedom of speech? Iraq at this moment has more freedoms than we do in free speech. Our military and government gave them that. This is unthinkable.

By the way, this isn't about President George Bush. This is about anyone, republican, democrat, independent or any other party that chooses to come out with this. They do this at the democratic conventions as well as the republican ones. They do this anywhere there are people gathered together waiting for a politician to parade by. This isn't party politics, this is about our freedom of speech and freedom to protest.

Where is the outcry, people? Where are those who are willing to stand up and be counted on this issue? When is the frog going to get the idea that it's tremendously hot in this melting pot and leap out? Isn't it about time we the people had a true voice again? If we continue to sit back and watch, we will lose just as we are losing now.


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